Reel Injun: On the Trail of the Hollywood Indian

Reel Injun: On the Trail of the Hollywood Indian (

Watch Reel Injun – Trailer on PBS.


“What does it mean to have your identity defined by the movies?”  This question is posed during the Trailer of the movie.  I identified with this question because of the topic in our course concerning whether or not you need to understand your own culture before you can identify with another.  I suspect it is the same with your “identity”.

The movie is a documentary film by Cree filmmaker Neil Diamond.  Diamond takes a journey through the Americas to see how “the myth of “the Injun” has influenced the world’s understanding — and misunderstanding — of Natives.”  It has won several awards including the 2011 Peabody Award for excellence in electronic media.  I have to admit I have not seen the movie.  Only 3 or 4, 2-3 minute clips but I am exploring ways to see it.  What I have seen is both interesting and humorous.    I say humorous because one clip shows a montage of Hollywood actors that have portrayed Indians in films and they were all “white”.  Maybe it is insensitive to laugh but I was laughing because of the “patheticness” of Hollywood’s attempts – not that I think it was funny.  If anyone has access to this movie I would love to see it in its entirety.

~ Ryan

November 28, 2011   No Comments

Our Mother Tongues

Our Mother Tongues (

I came across Our Mother Tongues while researching the movie March Point.  What I liked about this site is that they claim that there is a “vibrant cultural revival” in Native Indian culture – a message that (at least too me) is very different from what is portrayed in mainstream media.  Its focus is on the USA and has many interesting aspects to its website.

There is an interactive language map whereby you click on a region and a pop-up window displays information about that region including audio files of people speaking the Mother Tongue of that region.  You can send ePostcards with an audio message greeting in a chosen Tribal language.  As well, there are videos and a blog that you can subscribe to.

~ Ryan

November 28, 2011   No Comments

Traditional Knowledge and Identity

I am focusing on the use of technology to document and preserve traditional knowledge and develop curriculum resources. Most of my posts are related to media in supporting an indigenous re-framing of identity and different ways media are being used to share and document traditional knowledge and deal with ownership issues. How different communities and groups have done this, and their successes and issues will be important feedback for any efforts we make up north.


Native Science

A website on Traditional Knowledge with links to other sites developed in Alaska with TK resources dealing with language, culture and the land.  The projects are aimed at documenting and preserving TK and developing curriculum resources for the state as well. There is a very good set of guidelines developed by a large number of stakeholders: GUIDELINES FOR RESPECTING CULTURAL KNOWLEDGE.

Alaskan Native Knowledge Network

Articles and resources dealing with traditional knowledge, culture and language  including curriculum and resources from all the language groups found in Alaska.


Indigenous Knowledge: Foundations for First Nations

A detailed article on the place of traditional knowledge in current identity, ecology and development issues from the University of Saskatchewan.


David Bouchard – Portrait of a Metis Writer

Video interview with David Bouchard, a well-known and much respected Metis writer and speaker. We have had David visit out school several times and he is a real champion for strong FN identity – not just Metis. His work is multimedia – writing, partnerships with artists, music – he is very inspiring to youth. Story as the vehicle of traditional knowledge.

Nokum is my Teacher

Most of his books are on line in some form. This book is about the Metis culture  and the importance of being open to sharing understanding and change.


Brenda Parlee Website:

Collects her research re traditional knowledge mainly in Alberta and the NWT as it impacts resource development, wildlife management and ecological issues. Some of her research has dealt with traditional knowledge issues in our community of Lutsel K’e, and issues of control in communication  and development.


Indian Country Today Media Network

Both US and Canadian sites with videos, blogs and news feeds on international issues from health to politics. The site speaks to solidarity among many ethnic and tribal identities on similar issues.










October 15, 2011   No Comments

Cherokee Nation Partners With Apple

In the December 23, 2010 issue of the Seattle Times newspaper, columnist Murray Evans’ headline reported: Cherokee, Apple Partner to put language on iPhones.

Although 290 000 individuals belong to the Cherokee Nation, only about 8 000 Cherokee speakers remain. To combat this decline, tribal officials created a Cherokee-only language immersion school in Oklahoma in 2001 where children enrolled in kindergarten through grade 5 work on their laptops using a Macintosh operating system that recognizes the 85 Cherokee syllables that the blacksmith Sequoyah converted to written form in 1821.

In September 2010 after discussions and meetings with the Cherokee chief about developing more Cherokee language software, Apple announced they would release Cherokee applications for the iPod and iPhone. These apps allow individuals to continue communicating in Cherokee outside of the school environment and have started to appeal to people outside of the educational setting as well, illustrating the initial success of this innovative approach meant to strengthen cultural identity through indigenous language development.



October 8, 2011   No Comments

Indigenous Knowledge and Pedagogy

Indigenous Knowledge & Pedagogy in First Nations Education: A Literature Review with Recommendations (Dr. Marie Battiste, 2002)

In response to the Government of Canada’s evolving commitment to work with First Nations to improve Aboriginal educational opportunities, Dr. Marie Battiste unveils a framework that extends beyond a program of steps to be implemented to illustrate the shift in perspective that will be required to move past the Eurocentric assumptions and prejudices that have undermined Aboriginal education and have been indifferent towards Indigenous knowledge. The task of breaking through the colonial mindset that continues to view Indigenous ways of knowing as inferior because it cannot be effectively categorized and analysed using Eurocentric logic involves acknowledging the value of Indigenous knowledge and re-examining the widespread acceptance that Eurocentric knowledge commands the most value. Battiste calls on the Canadian government to recognize that Aboriginal education is distinct and accept that they have a responsibility to protect Aboriginal knowledge, languages, and heritage.

Aboriginal learning and identity continue to be affected by curriculum and authoritative behaviour in Canadian schools that propagate a Eurocentric perspective of learning and thinking which have isolated Aboriginal people from educational opportunities that build individual and community wholeness. In the pursuit of balancing our educational system, indigenous ways of knowing must be valued and respected. Embracing the inclusion of indigenous knowledge in our schools moves beyond teaching indigenous heritage and creates transformative educational opportunities that seek to overcome the mistrust and deprivation that still emanate from colonization.





October 7, 2011   No Comments